I grew up reading every James Herriot book I could get my hands on. He was the quintessential veterinarian I aspired to be. The beloved local vet that everyone knew and trusted. For many years, veterinarians were viewed through the lens of James Herriot. And as a profession, I think we lived up to his great example. We were respected, trusted, and even loved. However, the days of the James Herriot veterinarians and their loyal clients seem to be fading. There is a great divide developing between veterinarians and dog owners.
Let’s Start With the Veterinarians’ Perspective
Vets are tired. They are overworked, underpaid, and ultimately burnt out. Covid has substantially accelerated this already trending scenario for vets. The clinics are busier than ever because of covid dog adoptions, and they are understaffed because no one wants to work these days.
Veterinarians are seeing clients every 15 minutes to keep up with the demand. They are working multiple long shifts per week. Because of this, many are sticking to outdated protocols, having no time to research and develop new ones. They are so busy saving lives down the river, they don’t have time to go upstream and see who’s throwing them in. And, in my opinion, it is the highly processed diets, over vaccination, and overuse of pesticides that is “throwing them in”.
The Dog Guardians’ Perspective
Dog guardians are learning about the negative effects of highly processed diets, over vaccination, and overuse of pesticides. When dog guardians approach their veterinarians with alternate or new ways of caring for their dogs, the burnt out vet will often become defensive. Many respond with untrue answers such as, “your dog will get salmonella if you feed raw.” Not all, but enough vets are responding this way, resulting in a loss of trust from dog guardians. Guardians then turn to Dr. Google, social media, and other pet professionals to make health decisions for their dogs.
I hope that with awareness of each other’s perspectives, being cognizant of how we approach each other, and remembering that we are all here for the animals’ well-being, we can get on the same team once again. Dogs need both highly qualified veterinarians and informed guardians to be their health advocates. It takes both to ensure that dogs live their longest, most vibrant lives.